Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the Texas coast as a large category 2 storm. Ike could still increase to category 3 strength today.
Friday, September 12, 2008 – 7:00 AM CDT / 8:00 AM EDT advisory from AccuWeather
Hurricane Ike – By the numbers:
Location: 26.9 north and 92.2 west. About 230 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas.
Direction: west-northwestward at 13 mph
Maximum sustained winds: 105 mph (Category 2) Hurricane-force winds extend 120 miles outward from Ike’s center. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 215 miles.
Minimum centralized pressure: 956 mb, or 28.23 inches.
WARNINGS & WATCHES
A hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan City, La. to Baffin Bay, Texas.
A tropical storm warning is in effect in Texas from Port Mansfield to Baffin Bay.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from Morgan City, La. to the Mississippi/Alabama border and includes the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
The circulation of Ike is causing water levels to rise 1-3 feet across the entire Gulf Coast from South Florida to Texas. Parts of southern Louisiana will have a 3- to 5-foot water rise with tropical storm conditions through today. Seas in the central Gulf of Mexico are around 20 to 30 feet, while seas in the western Gulf are 10-15 feet.
Steering of Ike:
Ike is still being steered by a strong upper-level high that extends across the northern Gulf of Mexico and the Deep South. This ridge should remain in place today and keep Ike on a west-northwesterly course through tonight. Conditions will be somewhat favorable for intensification over the next 12-18 hours as water temperatures along Ike’s projected track are at least 82 degrees and wind shear remains relatively weak. Ike is a large hurricane with a small central core, and strong winds extend far from the eye. Ike’s pressure remains very low for a Category 2 hurricane. This is due to the fact that Ike is a very large storm with energy spread out over a huge distance. If these winds can contract, Ike may increase to Category 3 strength today. The latest results from the intensity forecast models on Ike do not have Ike reaching Category 3 strength before landfall. Since intensity forecasting is very difficult, we will continue to monitor the pressure and wind within this massive hurricane. Because Ike is such a large storm, tropical storm and hurricane conditions will reach far away from the actual center upon landfall. This will be especially true north and east of where the center comes ashore.
Point of Landfall:
The best estimate right now is for landfall somewhere between Matagorda Bay and Galveston, Texas. Nonetheless, a devastating storm surge is expected for more than 100 miles east of landfall. East of the landfall, a storm surge from 12 to 20 feet can strike with some of the back bays perhaps having a higher surge. One should not focus on an exact landfall location at this time, and all interests along the western Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of Ike closely.
After landfall, Ike will begin to move more north, then northeast, as it gets caught up in the westerlies. A rather rapid increase in forward speed is likely. By Sunday morning, the remnant tropical rainstorm center should be over northwestern Arkansas, moving quickly northeastward through the middle Mississippi Valley during the day Sunday.